TCL Announces Balanced Slate of Award Winners, All-TCL Team

Three different franchises pick up major awards and five organizations land multiple players on the All-TCL team when the league announces its annual awards Friday

One day after the league’s final playoff berth was dramatically secured on the last night of the regular season, the Texas Collegiate League announced its annual awards.

The league released the winners of its four major awards for the 2011 season as well as the 2011 All-TCL team in an announcement on Friday. The awards were selected by a poll of the circuit’s coaches.

The voting was the closest and most balanced in recent years. Three different organizations earned major awards and five clubs placed at least two players on the league’s year-end all-star team.

Outfielder Taylor Dugas punctuated the Acadiana Cane Cutters’ inaugural season by earning the TCL Player of the Year award. The former All-American finished second in the league with a .336 batting average and led the circuit with a .475 on-base percentage. The two-time all-SEC performer from Alabama was also second in the TCL with 28 steals in just 40 games, and he walked 34 times against just nine strikeouts. Dugas was an eighth-round selection by the Chicago Cubs in the June draft.

Brazos Valley Bombers lefty Damian Rivera was tabbed the TCL Pitcher of the Year. Rivera was a perfect 7-0 with a 2.01 ERA, tying for the league lead in wins and finishing a shade behind teammate Alec Mills for the ERA crown. The Saint Louis University freshman won consecutive TCL Pitcher of the Week awards late in the season, kicking off a streak of four straight such honors for the Bombers staff to lead Brazos Valley into the postseason.

Third baseman Hunter Dozier ignited the East Texas Pump Jacks high-scoring offense to earn the TCL Freshman of the Year award. Dozier batted .301 with 50 hits, 31 RBI, 26 runs scored and 10 stolen bases for a Pump Jacks squad that led the league in every one of those categories. He finished in the top-ten in the TCL in hitting and RBI. In fact, the Stephen F. Austin product was one of just three players in the entire league to bat .300 or better with at least 25 runs scored, 30 RBI and 10 steals.

Dozier is the third straight Pump Jack to be named TCL Freshman of the Year. He follows in the footsteps of Matt Juengel, who captured the award in 2009, and Zac Fisher, who succeeded him last year.

East Texas skipper Ben Taylor was named the TCL Coach of the Year after leading the Pump Jacks to the league’s best record. East Texas set a new league high for wins in a season and winning percentage by posting a 40-19 record (.678) and winning both the first and second half TCL titles. The Jacks have been ranked as high as #8 in the country in Perfect Game’s national summer collegiate baseball poll and they enter the playoffs at #11.

Taylor’s Pump Jacks squad led the way with four players on the All-TCL team, but the voting was anything but a landslide. The Bombers and Coppell Copperheads each had three players named All-TCL, and the Cane Cutters and Victoria Generals added two apiece.

All five teams were represented in the all-star infield. TCL batting champion Trey Porras, who hit .344 on the season, represented the Bombers at first. At second base was Victoria’s Freddy Villalobos, who tied for the league lead with 40 RBI and topped everyone with 21 extra-base hits.

On the left side of the infield were Dozier and Nick Smelser. Smelser finished in the top-five in the league in doubles (12), home runs (four), RBI (39) and hits (60) for Coppell.

The Copperheads’ Joe Andrade and Grant Dozar from Acadiana shared honors behind the plate.

The All-TCL outfield featured three of the very best the league had to offer in 2011: Dugas, Seth Granger from East Texas and the Generals’ Chad Kruse. Granger batted .325 and tied a TCL record with five triples on the season, then finished just one point behind Dugas in Player of the Year voting. He led the league with 47 runs and a .467 slugging percentage, adding 64 hits (tied for second in the league), three home runs (tied for sixth) and 37 RBI (fourth).

Kruse batted .325 as well and set new league marks for hits in a season (77) and at-bats (237). The Sam Houston State junior added 44 runs, 26 RBI and 13 doubles while winning two TCL Player of the Week awards.

Tyler Migl, who led the Copperheads with 35 runs scored and finished second on the team with 34 RBI, was named the All-TCL designated hitter.

Rivera doubled as the All-TCL left-hander while Jaden Dillon was named the league’s top right-hander. Dillon paced the East Texas rotation with a 7-1 record that tied Rivera for the league lead in wins. The two-time TCL Pitcher of the Week finished fourth in the TCL with a 2.30 ERA and held opponents to a .233 average.

Brazos Valley’s Garrett Shepperd and the Pump Jacks’ Jason Jester shared best closer honors. Shepperd topped the circuit with 11 saves, adding a 1.42 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings. Jester was third in the league with eight saves to go along with a 1.95 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 32.1 innings pitched.

All award winners are listed below.

The TCL playoffs get underway tonight with the TCL Division Series. The Bombers host the Pump Jacks and the Copperheads visit the Cane Cutters in Lafayette, La. The winners will face off in the TCL Championship Series beginning Monday, August 15. All series are best-of-three affairs.

2011 TCL Award Winners
Player of the Year: Taylor Dugas, Acadiana
Pitcher of the Year: Damian Rivera, Brazos Valley
Freshman of the Year: Hunter Dozier, East Texas
Coach of the Year: Ben Taylor, East Texas

All-TCL Team
Catcher: Joe Andrade, Coppell & Grant Dozar, Acadiana (tie)
First Base: Trey Porras, Brazos Valley
Second Base: Freddy Villalobos, Victoria
Third Base: Hunter Dozier, East Texas
Shortstop: Nick Smelser, Coppell
Outfield: Taylor Dugas, Acadiana
Outfield: Seth Granger, East Texas
Outfield: Chad Kruse, Victoria
Designated Hitter: Tyler Migl, Coppell
Right-Handed Pitcher: Jaden Dillon, East Texas
Left-Handed Pitcher: Damian Rivera, Brazos Valley
Relief Pitcher: Jason Jester, East Texas & Garrett Shepperd, Brazos Valley (tie)

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